How To Transform A Secondhand Metal Lateral File Cabinet

Hello my friends, today I'm going to share how to turn a utilitarian lateral metal file cabinet into one you'd be happy to have on display in your home office.

If you're a thrift store junkie like myself, you've probably often seen these discarded file cabinets in thrift stores or salvage yards. They can be pretty beat up but we were lucky to find one, other than being quite dirty, in very good condition. The same model brands new costs around $500 but we scored ours for $45, more than I would have liked to spend but I was in desperate need of a larger file cabinet.

My home office is a converted bedroom on our main floor and can be seen when guests visit the washroom so it is important that it is nicely decorated and pleasing to the eye. Besides, who wants to work in an uninspiring office space.

Metal Lateral File Cabinet Makeover

Metal Lateral File Cabinet Transformation

Priming The Metal File Cabinet

It got to work on the cabinet as soon as it entered the workshop and forgot to take before pictures. You can get a visual by looking at the gray interior in the photo below. This photo was taken after I rolled the exterior of the cabinet with Zinsser Bullseye Primer.

Lateral File Cabinet Primed

Painting The Metal File CabinetI let the primer dry overnight and in the morning rolled two coats of white Behr Premium Plus Interior Eggshell Enamel Paint in Pure White. You can see in the photo below that I didn't bother painting the back of the cabinet considering it would against a wall.
Lateral File Cabinet painted white

Painting And Priming The Drawer Fronts

The drawer fronts were also primed and only the upper half, around the handle was painted with pure white.

Lateral File Cabinet Drawer Fronts primed

Painted Chalkboard Drawer Fronts

Once the paint was completely dry I ran a strip of painter's tape below the handrail. I rolled each drawer front with three coats of black chalkboard paint. This step takes awhile because chalkboard paint has a long drying time between coats. Another alternative with a quicker drying time is using black chalk paint. Either will give you the chalkboard finish.

Painting Lateral File Cabinet Drawer fronts with chalkboard paint

Numbered Drawer Fronts And Decoupaged Hand Rails

To add a fun element to the drawer fronts I used 2-inch stencils and white chalk paint to number each drawer. Normally I would use an artists brush and paint the stencil bridge on each letter but I opted not to this time because I wanted an industrial look.

Instead of painting the recessed handle rail on the drawers, I decoupaged strips of pretty black and white Damask scrapbook paper using Mod Podge.

Lateral File Cabinet with numbered drawer fronts

Painting Grainsack Stripes On The Top

I added black grain sack stripes to the top of the cabinet using Frog Tape and black Chalkboard Paint.

Lateral File Cabinet Painted Grain Sack Stripes

I love how the decoupaged papered handrails dress up the cabinet, especially combined with the French Grainsack stripes on the top.

Lateral File Cabinet Chalkboard Drawer Fronts

Doesn't the cabinet look great paired with my fun black and white polka dot chair? It used to be an office vinyl armchair and I removed the arms and reupholstered it in my pre-blogging days. As you can probably tell, my office is decorated in black and white with pops of red (my favorite color). 

Black and White Lateral File Cabinet Makeover

Loving the black grain sack stripes and the playful chalkboard drawer fronts.

Lateral Metal File Cabinet Painted Top

The recessed drawer rails are perfect for holding sticks of chalk when I want to jot down quick notes and reminders. 

Lateral File Cabinet With Damask Hand Rails

I think the numbered drawer fronts add a nice decorative element to the file cabinet. 

Old Metal Lateral File Cabinet Makeover

If you found my Lateral File Cabinet Makeover useful, please share it with a friend and/or save it on Pinterest.

Lateral Metal File Cabinet Makeover

I also refreshed a small two-drawer Curved Front Oak File Cabinet that is the perfect size for personal use.

If you'd like more home office inspiration, you can catch how I turned a Mid-Century Modern Record Cabinet into the perfect home office credenza, also with grain sack stripes and alphabet stencils.

One more thing I can't do without in my office is the large Fabric Magnetic Board that hangs behind my desk. Besides my daytimer, it is the most functional item in my office to keep me organized and on task and it was so easy to make.

You will find this project linked to these fabulous LINK PARTIES.